I have several different versions of the Musette from Bach's Anna Magdalena Notebook, and there seems to be a difference of opinion about the left-hand notes in bar 18.

Some of my copies indicate an "e" as in the image below, but some have a "d" instead. If only one version differed, then I would go with the others and just assume a typo, but I have about equal numbers favoring each version, so I am unsure. enter image description here

Both versions sound reasonable to me, so I would appreciate an expert opinion as to which note I ought to be playing here.

  • 3
    There DO exist passages where the "correct" note is the subject of musicological controversy and the composer's intent, if there ever was such a thing to begin with, is not clear from the available evidence. The most famous is probably the A(#?) in the Hammerklavier sonata. I don't know, but it is entirely possible this is one of those cases. (In addition, like much of the Anna Magdalena Notebook, it's not clear Bach was the original composer, so Bach might have miscopied or misheard or misremembered it.) I see a d in the Bach Gesellschaft edition, so that was the late 19th c. best guess. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 2:58
  • Thanks for that. After playing both version for a while, I had started to prefer the sound of the d-version (marginally), so I will stick with that. If no-one else answers, you might consider converting this comment to an answer (to at least avoid adding to the unanswered queue!).
    – Old John
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 7:21

2 Answers 2


Anna's notebook is a musician making a tutorial notebook for his young wife. It's going to have tons of songs she likes. Basically pop songs of the time (see Christian Petzold).

Most of these tunes in the notebook are either super simplified Bach pieces, finger exercises disguised as tunes, or rewritten pop songs that Anna enjoyed.

The answer is: whichever note your little heart desires. Since its coming from Anna's notebook, you wouldn't be offending anyone of you played around with these songs either.

Now if you start altering structure of the well tempered clavier, I'm gonna hunt you down.


I know this post is a couple of years old yet felt the need to clear up this same question that had nagged me for a long time. The original handwritten manuscript kept at the Berlin State Library clearly shows the L.H. playing a D as the 2nd note. It seems that the versions with the E note are incorrect and perhaps due to lazy research or more likely because the version with the D note against the G# in the R.H. forms a tritone (the Devil's Interval). As you may well know, the tritone was forbidden in music of the era by the church because of it's dissonance. Perhaps some publishers believed the D note to be a mistake because of those musical practices and replaced D with E, forming a nice (cute but no cigar) consonant 10th. By Bach's time, the church lost the battle over the tritone. Bach used it in certain situations, and eventually it became even more acceptable. I've included a link to a photo of the original page;


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